|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
But the latest results suggest that the race might be tilting back to a more normal form, where the goal is achieving a series of splashing victories and thus momentum. That has provided Mr. Obama with the opportunity, which he plans to seize in a more full-throated way starting on Wednesday, to argue that voters across a wide cross-section of the country have embraced his candidacy, and that the time has come for the group that could hold the balance of power, those 796 unpledged superdelegates — party leaders and elected officials who have an automatic seat at the national convention — to follow suit.
“We are in a momentum phase of the process now,” said Tad Devine, a Democratic consultant.
Mrs. Clinton’s advisers dispute that, noting that his victories have come in relatively small states and that she has invested most of her attention in two big contests coming up on March 4: Ohio and Texas. Her aides have long argued that by the end of the voting, the difference between the two candidates in delegate count would be minimal, leaving the final decision to superdelegates, who in their view would favor Mrs. Clinton.
But if party leaders begin to think this is no longer simply a mathematical race to the 2,025-delegate line, that could have big consequences for Mrs. Clinton.
For one thing, if this is an election where a candidate wins by virtue of being seen as winning — a definition of momentum — that would mean that voters in coming states would be influenced by the outcome of earlier races. And Mr. Obama might then be in a position to encroach on Mrs. Clinton’s firewall of Texas and Ohio.
Perhaps most problematically, the delegate selection process — in which delegates are allocated to the candidates in proportion to how many votes they win — could now begin to work against Mrs. Clinton. Both candidates get a share of the delegates, even if one wins by a margin of 20 points. That is a reason Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama had stayed so close on delegate numbers, and why it becomes harder for her to reclaim a lead.
But whatever challenges Mrs. Clinton faces, she has repeatedly proved to be a resourceful candidate with a sharp campaign organization and a passionate base of supporters. Should she win in Ohio and Texas, she could halt Mr. Obama’s claim to momentum and keep the race for pledged delegates from breaking against her. And there has been a history in this campaign of Mr. Obama winning, only to have Mrs. Clinton return and win.
“You can’t make a judgment until Ohio and Texas,” said Jonathan Prince, who was a senior adviser to John Edwards of North Carolina, who quit the race two weeks ago. “In this campaign, every time he has surged ahead, voters take a pause. If momentum keeps slamming into a wall, than you do have to come down to the numbers.”
“John McCain is an American hero,” Mr. Obama said before a huge, cheering crowd. “We honor his service to our nation. But his priorities don’t address the real problems of the American people, because they are bound to the failed policies of the past.”
Mr. McCain picked up the challenge. While not mentioning Mr. Obama by name, he offered an unmistakable put-down of the theme that has become so closely identified with Mr. Obama.
“To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope,” he said. “It is a platitude.”
"...an American hero" -- Barack Obama